Confidence in government and vaccination willingness in the USA

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Abstract

The most recent internationally widespread disease outbreak occurred during the flu season of 2009 and 2010. On April 2009, the first cases of influenza A (H1N1) (Popularly called, Swine Flu) were confirmed in the USA and UK following a novel virus that was first identified in Mexico. As the virus spread rapidly, the risk of morbidity and mortality increased in several countries. In this paper, we rely on the social cognitive theory of risk to assess the willingness of the US public to comply with vaccination and reduce the risk of sickness and death from the flu. We conduct a secondary data analysis of the Pew Research for the People and Press October 2009 and investigate the factors associated with willingness to take the swine flu vaccine (n = 1000). The findings indicate that the decision to take the swine flu vaccination was highly polarized across partisan lines. Controlling for education, income and demographic factors, the likelihood of taking the vaccine was associated with party identification. Individuals that identified themselves as Democrats were more likely to be willing to take the swine vaccine than individuals that identify themselves as Republicans and Independents. Confidence in the ability of the government to deal with the swine flu crisis seems to explain party identification differences in the willingness to take the vaccine. The implications of the findings are discussed.

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